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Temporal myopia in sustainable behavior under uncertainty


  • van der Wal, Arianne J.
  • van Horen, Femke
  • Grinstein, Amir


Consumers in today's world are confronted with the alarming consequences of unsustainable behavior such as pollution and resource degradation. In addition, they are facing increases in uncertainty due to external events such as economic crises and terror attacks. These two problems are central to consumers' lives, occur on a global scale, and have significant impact on the world's political, economic, environmental, and social landscapes. Contributing to research on persuasion and pro-social behavior, we show in four studies, conducted online, in the lab, and in the field, that these two problems are interconnected. Studies 1 and 2 demonstrate that uncertainty leads to lower levels of sustainable behavior in comparison to certainty. Study 2 reveals in addition that this is due to the display of higher levels of temporal discounting under uncertainty (i.e., adopting a more immediate orientation). Finally, Studies 3 and 4 show that emphasizing the immediate benefits of sustainability during uncertainty reverses the negative effect and leads consumers to act more sustainably. Overall, these findings provide valuable implications for policy makers and responsible marketers.

Suggested Citation

  • van der Wal, Arianne J. & van Horen, Femke & Grinstein, Amir, 2018. "Temporal myopia in sustainable behavior under uncertainty," International Journal of Research in Marketing, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 378-393.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ijrema:v:35:y:2018:i:3:p:378-393
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ijresmar.2018.03.006

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    2. Yuting Cui & Raphael Lissillour & Juraj Chebeň & Drahoslav Lančarič & Chunlin Duan, 2022. "The position of financial prudence, social influence, and environmental satisfaction in the sustainable consumption behavioural model: Cross‐market intergenerational investigation during the Covid‐19 ," Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 29(4), pages 996-1020, July.
    3. Nanjangud Vishwanath Vighnesh & Patil Balachandra & Deepak Chandrashekar & Sukanlaya Sawang, 2023. "How cultural values influence sustainable consumption behavior? An empirical investigation in a non‐Western context," Sustainable Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 31(2), pages 990-1007, April.
    4. Dimitris Zavras, 2021. "Feeling Uncertainty during the Lockdown That Commenced in March 2020 in Greece," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(10), pages 1-10, May.

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